concentrating this power within a single individual is a big risk. “It’s happened a number of times that a president has been heavily drinking, or subject to medication he’s taking. He may be suffering from a psychological disease. All of these things have happened in the past,”

ways a country’s own technologies could be used against them. As we become more and more reliant on sophisticated computers, there is growing concern that hackers, viruses or AI bots could start a nuclear war. “We believe that the chance of false alarms has gone up with the increased danger of cyber-attacks,” says Collina. For example, a control system [like Pine Gap] could be spoofed into thinking that a missile is coming, which could mean a president is tricked into launching a counter-attack.

many experts agree that by far the biggest threat comes from the very launch systems that are supposed to be protecting us.